Oddly enough, out of all the sub genres of gaming, tower defences have never really evolved past a certain point and usually required to be stretched into other genres like Coffee Stain studio’s Sanctum series or Robot Entertainment’s Orcs must Die. Thankfully Freaking Meatbags developed by Wild Factor is a tower defence title that plays a very creative mix with base building RTS elements seen in titles like Starcraft 2 and the Command & Conquer series along with some bullet hell combat similar to The Binding of Isaac.
In Freaking Meatbags players assume the role of Chip, a lowly cleaning robot down on his luck and whose been assigned to a solar system about to go boom where you will go from planet to planet gathering rare resources, breeding and ordering your squishy populace around, building your defences during the daylight hours and then fighting off the rather flesh bag craving robots as the sun sets.
Visuals for Freaking Meatbags are well, freaking sweet (see what I did there), conjuring up a menagerie of classic old school with gorgeous pixel art style. Everything is very nicely detailed but are easy on the eyes with towers/buildings being easily distinguishable from one another, granted the meat bags (humans) are a bit on the basic side but we are meant to be tiny feeble beings. I do love the FM’s graphical style though, visuals are very polished, smooth and just oozes Wild Factor’s own blend of personality.
As mentioned gameplay follows a mix between base building RTS and tower defence where first thing first you allocate bobby, joe, tim etc (I prefer to not get attached to the little guys) to each planets resources judging on your needs require sufficing first; ranging from metals used for basic walls and machine gun turrets, green ore (I can for the life of me find an official name) used for more biological structures such as the DNA Fusion device or Barracks, red ore allows you to build more powerful turrets and steel for advanced turrets along with the drones. While the building is relatively simple each planets objectives while not too greatly varied have you facing different challenges that both teach and force the player to learn new ways of either defending their base or themselves in fact boiling down to 3 objectives which are your standard survive x waves, locate each secret with the time allotted and destroy all robots which sees your base completely removed from play.
While the game does somewhat reward the player for exploring past the borders of your base on each planet the rewards tend to not really feel all that worth it honestly only felt like going off the beaten track just to fill out the fog of war. When you’re not planet side you can spend your time visiting the traveling merchant for building upgrades & unlocks granted there isn’t too much available, upgrading your bots stats like speed or human pop cap, venturing to the next destination and reading your emails.
While the story is paper thin, along with the in-game lore and text for things, you Chip will send emails back and forth between his loved ones, his boss and a giant trans-dimensional space squid so its good that the dialogue and in-game humour are genuinely good. I often found myself chuckling at the banter between Chip and email recipients or reading the background info on his human slaves that give the game a bit more life where you can generally enjoy the humour instead of just sighing every time a bit of text shows up on the screen like in certain other indie titles or just ploughing through the base building and turret defending mindlessly.
Along with breeding humanity you will also come across a bunch of varying alien races who blindly join you for helping them out which allows you to play DNA dress up where you can fuse say a human and alien together in order to breed humans with, (pause for dramatic effect), laser eyes!
While at the moment it feels like there is little thought needed and the DNA fusing is very simple where really you just keep blending dna types together in order to carry along the rather f*cked up gene pool and spread it amongst your rather ‘special’ race of fleshians, its still a very enjoyable mechanic that be it needs a little more depth.
While I am disheartened that I’m already one planet away from finishing the campaign after only 3 and a half hours (there are harder modes ofcourse) and don’t think there will be that much added level wise once it his fully released. Freaking Meatbags is a rather simplistic yet well-made game with little bugs considering its apparently in alpha state with a couple more structures, new meatbag types, enemies, a fully featured level editor (and a crazy pirate?) which tickles a rather pleased nerve ending for my RTS and tower defence needs and is certainly worth a look at for those who prefer tower defences that aren’t too unforgiving and enjoy a gorgeous pixel aesthetic.
Brilliant pixel art visuals,
Genuinely funny dialogue and text,
Simple yet enjoyable.
Somewhat lacking content,
Rather short levels,
I really wish I could name the slaves.
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